Saturday, April 24, 2010

Week #10 - Papa Lynn's Health

Dear Family,
Just a short note that I always forget to write about. My blood is staying close to what it should be and I do have it tested through the lab every two weeks. I hope to move this to three weeks or even a month as you all know how much I hate needles. But I have been real good about it and even acting normal when they take my blood. I am suppose to keep the something between 2 and 3 and only once after I got it above the 2 mark has it been below 2 and that was a 1.93 and I increase the warfarin a half a pill for only 1 day of the week. I get it tested again tomorrow and hopefully all will be back to normal between the 2 and 3 mark. I feel great and Mom is wonderful to me and her health is doing great as well. We surely do love each other and are a great support to each other.

Mom keeps going to the wrong side of the car to get in as she hasn't adjusted to the driver being on the right side of the car to drive on the left hand side of the road. She told me that if I would open her car door all the time she wouldn't make a mistake so I am starting to do that for her. It is the gentlemanly thing to do anyway. We thank each of you for your prayers, they give us lots of strength and protection serving here in Botswana. We love it and feel that things are going great. Each of you take care and remember that our lives are to serve one another and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Pray to him often and serve him in church callings as it is earning you a place in heaven. Mom and I want us and all of you to be there together.

I hope this short report tells you what you want to hear from us about our health.

Love Out of Africa, DAD and MOM

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Week # 9 - Papa Lynn

Dear Family and Friends,

We are heading for Johannesburg at about 6:30 this morning and I can’t sleep so I thought I would write a letter this morning before we leave. I probably won’t get this e-mailed before we get back from Johannesburg but it is riding heavy on my mind and I want to get the following story down in writing while it is fresh on my mind. Last Sunday the 18th of April Lorraine and I went across the southern border of Botswana into South Africa. We have a branch in Mafikeng that is part of our Botswana Mission. We have two sets of missionaries so we went to see them and inspect their flat (apartment) and go to church with them and they had 3 baptisms that we wanted to witness as well. All went wonderfully well until after all the meetings and the baptism. We were getting ready to leave and I got into my computer carrying case that I always carry even if I don’t take my computer. I didn’t need the computer this day so I didn’t bring it but I had papers that we would need in the next half an hour at the border so I got them out and put them on top of the car they were in a plastic green folder. It contained our passports, papers to get across the border and a paper giving me permission to drive the mission car. That paper was signed by President David Poulsen our mission president with our office information on it as well. I took off my suit coat and laid it on the back seat of the car just as I stepped back one of the missionaries called to me and I went and talked to him to say good bye and got into the car and headed toward the border.

When we got to the border we stopped to get out and even before I looked I realized what I had done. I got this sick feeling as I remembered that I had put all the papers (which we had in a plastic snap type envelope) on the top of the car back at the church parking area. I looked in my computer case knowing I would not find them and I truly was sick. Lorraine and I talked and didn’t know what to do. We called the Elders we had just left to see if they had seen them. I asked them to go back to the church parking area and see if they could find them, if not call the branch president to check with him. If he didn’t see it them please drive up and down the street leaving the church looking for out green plastic envelope.

Here we were setting at the border afraid to even go into the building without our papers. Lorraine and I had a very fervent prayer to Our Father in Heaven pleading for help that I knew I didn’t deserve because of my stupid mistake of putting the important papers on top of the car. We didn’t know what to do. After the prayer we decided to go into the building and explain what had happened and ask if we could turn around and go back the 30 kilometers to Mafikeng.

When you go into our out of a country you have two buildings that are about two to three hundred yards apart. The incoming and outgoing roads are on each side of the buildings. We were setting at the departure side of the South African boarder building. We went in and talked to them and they didn’t have any suggestions for us. They were nice and felt that they would let us through but knew that Botswana wouldn’t let us in without our paperwork which included our passports. You don’t ever get into a country without your passport and Botswana has a reputation of being very strict in this policy. We decided to go back to Mafikeng but before doing so we called Elder Olson (the couple we are replacing in a few weeks) and ask his advice. He said he knew we wouldn’t be able to get into Botswana without passports. He said we would have to go to Johannesburg in South Africa and wait for new passports that would take a month or two. That wouldn’t be very good as the Olson’s had tickets to fly home the 1st day of May. Who would run the Botswana part of the mission? After we hung up Elder Olson told his wife that they would not be able to go home on schedule the 1st of May.

Lorraine and I decided that it wouldn’t hurt to see what the Botswana border people had to say what they suggest we do. We drive to the next building which is the border for Botswana and went in and told them of our dilemma. One of the ladies that helped us earlier that morning to get out of Botswana recognized us and listened to our story as well. After almost an hour and conversing with us several times and talking to supervisors many times they decided to let us go through the border with a paper stating that we would go to the American Embassy the next morning and then report that same day to the immigration department in Gaborone. We agreed and to our surprise we were heading back to our flat (apartment) back in Gaborone. We called Elder Olson and told him they let us through and he couldn’t believe it. They have had many experiences with the border people and lost every time. We felt that the fervent prayer we had before we started was answered.

On our way back to our apartment of flat we stopped at the mission office (Olson’s flat) and chatted for awhile. Elder Olson just couldn’t believe that we made it through the border without having our passports. By that time we were very tired and headed back to see how our crock pot dinner was doing. Of course it was completely cooked and was wonderful. While we were eating we talked about the fact that we would never see our passports again. Even if they were found a passport only has your home address in America and no one would got that much bother to chase us down to return them. We were even worried that someone might try and use them for something stupid and get us in trouble. But here we are back in Botswana where we need to be so we can serve and let the Olson’s go home on schedule.

After dinner we got another phone call from Elder Olson. He said you will never believe what I have to say. He said he had just received a phone call from a man in South Africa that owns a trucking business and one of his men found our green packet that has our passports. He got the number to call from the letter that President Poulsen gave me to authorize me to drive in Botswana. He said he would have our passports here in Gaborone the next morning. We went to the trucking place here in Gaborone the next morning and sure enough we got them back all within 24 hours of when they were lost. We truly have been blessed and feel that it truly is a miracle without a doubt. I think Elder and Sister Olson are the happiest as they felt for a period of time they would have train someone else and not be able to go on the trip to Chobi game reserve the last week of their mission as they had planned. They had also thought they would have to stay another month to train another couple. They were really relieved when we once again had our passports in our hands.

Today 24th April 2010

On Wednesday we left for South Africa to Johannesburg for the couples conference which we didn’t think we would be able to make because of not having any passports. We even called President Bricknell and told him of what happened and told him we would not see them as planned because of what had happened. We call them back Sunday evening when we were told we would get our passports the next morning. The couples conference was wonderful and we got back last night about 6:30. It is about a 5 ½ hour trip one way, but it is fun with Mom as my navigator and companion. Today is Saturday and we went to Lobatsi Branch for the Saturday Conference that we watched of April General Conference. We have been asked to watch them as Salt Lake does but three weeks later. The talks were wonderful.

I think we didn’t tell you that we are now in the mission home here in Gaborone. The Olson’s have not left yet but we moved in last Tuesday late afternoon and stayed the night in the main bedroom which serves as the office as well. They took the smaller bedroom so we could not have to bother them as we did some office work. They have been very nice to us. Then the next morning we all left for the couple’s conference in Johannesburg. I mentioned we got home last night and then tonight and tomorrow night then they are off for the last week in northern Botswana. They will be back for Friday night the 30th and then about noon the next day they go to Johannesburg and have President and Sister Poulsen take them to the airport to fly home to America.

We love them and they have been so good to us. We will miss them a ton. Sister Olson is very outspoken and I think Elder Olson just holds it in but is very nice and soft spoken to both Mom and I. We are trying to stay in line and tread water as we make (I mostly) mistakes in what we do and they are trying to be patient with us and we are trying to be patient with them also. Again they have been wonderful to us. They go the extra mile to make it easy for us and at the same time let us take charge as much as we can. It will be hard but Mom and I are looking forward to when we are totally responsible as I think we will be able to handle it.

We love each of you very much and pray for each of you every morning and night in our prayers together and also in our personal prayers. Just live the gospel the best you can each day and you will receive great blessings. Teach our grandchildren the principals of the gospel as well as they are true.

With Love Out Of Africa, DAD AND MOM

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Week #8 - Kitchen Time in Africa - Granny

Dear Ladies:

I thought I’d drop you a line to make sure you are all appreciating shopping at your local familiar grocery store, your familiar kitchens, normal spices, regular flour, normal shortening, REAL brown sugar and most of all chocolate chips.

I found out a few days ago that it is my “turn” to furnish the dessert for our upcoming Zone Conference. I’m not sure how I lucked out, as this is the first one we have been here for, but….. There are 2 other couples that will be coming, the Olson’s who we are replacing and the Cardiff’s that live up in Francistown (almost 5 hours away), but they have each had a turn in the past so it’s my turn. Anyway, I convinced myself that even though we are living in a tiny studio apartment with not much in the way of cooking utensils that I could still give the Missionaries something “homemade” for dessert since WE will be eating an “off the street corner catered lunch meal..” Last week I bought the closest thing I could find to Cream cheese, and Sweetened Condensed Milk and I borrowed a glass cake pan from Sister Olson and I tried my hand at the cheese cake by memory as I didn’t have a recipe and we don’t have internet here yet to look up a recipe. I got it mixed up and since our fridge is about 2’ square, there wasn’t room for the cheese cake so I did a little creative reorganizing and got it balance on top of the butter dish and went to bed. About 2 O’clock in the morning I always have to get up and take my potty break and get a drink. I never turn on a light as our place is only one room and it wakes Lynn up of course, if I turn on the light. You can probably guess what happened, I reached in the fridge to get my water bottle and I knocked the cheese cake out of the fridge and it exploded all over our tile floor. Glass went everywhere and so did the cheese cake. Lynn jumped clear out of bed when he heard the crash, asked if I was OK and then proceeded to help me clean it up. Because we live in a Hotel complex, someone comes in to clean and sweep the floor, so we had no broom, dust pan or mop, so, we used our dish rag and dish the best we could to not get cut and get the mess cleaned up the best we could. The cheese cake was still runny so I knew that it wasn’t quite the right ingredients that I was use to so I bagged that idea.

We had a couple of missionaries with birthday’s so I decided to go with my Ukraine special and make them a wacky cake (you can’t miss on a wacky cake right?) Well, I didn’t have a cake pan so I borrowed one from Sister Olson, the flour here is a little different and the cocoa is WAY strong, and the frosting sugar is different than powdered sugar; and the first cake was a little sunken in the middle and tasted really of strong, bitter chocolate but the Elders loved it even though I hadn’t thought to take paper plates or forks or milk or ANYTHING. We were having a District meeting about 2 hours away from here in Mafikeng at their little chapel (in an old commercial building with no kitchen).They just held out their hands and we had CAKE! We had to travel 2 hours to get there as well as going through the boarder back in South Africa for the meeting and then back through the border and two hours back.

The next time I tried the cake, I added more flour, less chocolate, stirred the frosting a little more and it was better, but a little dry. The meeting was here locally and I did find a small package of paper plates, couldn’t find forks so we used spoons and everyone thought it was amazing to have homemade cake. The missionaries here aren’t used to getting spoiled at all. Sister Olson doesn’t have time to cook for them and she is the only one taking care of 34 missionaries so I wanted to help her out while there are two of us here to spoil them. Soon they will leave and I won’t have time to do it either. Dad said it wasn’t the best Wacky Cake he’d ever eaten, but it was the best one so far in Africa.

I realized I only had one cake pan (borrowed) and a glass casserole dish and that wouldn’t work to make dessert for 40 people when President and Sister Poulsen come Saturday for Zone Conference. I checked into buying one but it was over $12.00 to buy one and when we move I’ll have all of Sister Olson’s stuff and I can improvise better. So I decided to try my had at making cookies. I found raisins and oatmeal so that was my immediate plan and I set to work with my 2’ tiny oven and a really small cookie sheet, but realized when I got ready to mix them up that I didn’t have anything to mix them up in. Well, I looked again and realized that I had a perfectly good pot in the back of the cupboard that was bigger than anything else I had (next was a 2 Liter ice cream tub I had saved) I actually had pretty good luck last night with the cookies, I think they may be a little firm (hopefully not dry) but I didn’t burn any and turned up with 70 cookies which I put into Ziplocks that I brought from home and put them in my tiny little freezer above the fridge. I knew that wouldn’t be enough for 40 hungry missionaries so I started up the oven again tonight after supper and tried putting together a batch of peanut butter cookies, but just as I was gather my ingredients, the power went off. We didn’t have a candle, but Lynn found his little 4” flashlight and we prepared ourselves for the worst. One of our neighbors saw us outside trying to change batteries in our flashlight to get better lighting and she offered us a candle which was much appreciated. We did dishes by candlelight and about 30 minutes later, the power came back on so I got back in the mood to make cookies. I haven’t tasted any of them yet, as I only got 50 cookies out of the double batch recipe that Sister Cardiff gave me while we were in Francistown 2 weeks ago. If I get a chance to try another kind tomorrow or Friday I will, but our calendar is really full and Olson’s are leaving soon so the Missionaries might just have to settle for what there is. I thought about serving it with ice cream, but Ice cream is about $6.00 or more per half gallon (2 Liter) here and I don’t even want to think about how much ice cream 40 missionaries could put away.

Well, it’s late and I still have to clean up my little kitchen from my cookie adventure, but while they were cooking I thought I’d share with you how BAD I am at cooking here and how much I am missing my kitchen at home and all the familiar things that I enjoy when I cooking for my family. I checked into the price of a cake mix here and it’s almost $5.00. I’ve got to learn to cook; I Can Do It!!! I really do love it here and we are seeing many wonderful things and having a marvelous experience. The people are wonderful and warm!


Out Of Africa!!!

Sister Morgan

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Week #7 - Papa Lynn

Dear Family and Friends,

A lot has happened this past week and I hope I can put it all together in a nice letter. Since Mom wrote last we have been very busy learning all the Olson’s have to teach us. We have been doing a lot of night work after working all day with the Olson’s. Tuesday evenings we spend an hour plus with the Young Single Adults with their institute program. Of course Mom studies each lesson in preparation for the class. I just go and absorb as much as I can. One week we got to G-West and the next week we go to Broadhurst as the class has been broken into two different groups. They have between 15 and 20 in each group so we enjoy which ever class we go to.

Wednesday night we were scheduled to out with the Sisters and the two lessons both canceled so The next night we went on one discussion and Mom and I taught about what our purpose Is here on earth along with a little about the pre-existence. The next night we tried to get into a couple of men to teach them about the law of chastity and the word of wisdom. The Sisters called him on the phone and we scheduled a meeting for Saturday night. We went again and we gave a good lesson. We have never been in a mission where we have been able to go and teach as we can actually speak the language here in Botswana. Mom and I are both enjoying the teaching thing. I think we will normally do it a couple of lessons each week as we have so much to do during each day that we don’t want to overdo. Sometimes we actually feel our age and know we can’t keep up with the younger Elders and Sisters.

We have known that one of the Young Single Adult couples is getting married. She hasn’t been a member long enough to go to the temple yet so they are having Bishop Matswagothata perform the wedding vows for them. Thursday night in their bishopric meeting they decided to have Elder Morgan give a 20 to 30 minute talk at the wedding. I thought the bishop was supposed to do that but he flattered me into doing it. We love Bishop Matswagothata very much. He is about 30 years old and he and his counselors are the only married couples in the ward. We have been in several meetings with the bishop and he think Mom and I can do no wrong. He and I have especially hit it of wonderfully. I took this assignment very seriously and spent about 4 hours on preparing it. Mom said the preparation paid off as she felt that I did a great job.

The wedding couple didn’t show up on time in fact the groom came about an hour and twenty minutes late and the bride came an hour and forty minutes late. The bishop was getting a little nervous as he had the stake president coming all the way from Johannesburg for meetings and training at 2:00 and the whole ceremony and everything that goes with it takes a long time. The meeting started within minutes after the bride got there. After the ceremony they have to go into the relief society room and it is a long drawn out process to do all the paper work. The paper work is a lot like I have to do to get a missionary registered in Botswana. At that point while they were signing everything the women started a yell that was very loud and wiggling their tongue at the same time. After each yell the men would grunt a lout grunt and it started all over again. Even while they were in the yard taking pictures they continued yelling, grunting and dancing. All in all it was a thing for us to remember.

Sherrie we enjoy your letters that you write to us and Dax. I hope you continue them when he gets home. Melissa writes almost every week and there are many that don’t even drop us a line, but most of them call once and awhile. All in all we love to hear from each of you. I know everyone is busy and lives are hectic but try to drop us a line. This next week will be another learning week for us and on Friday we have a dual zone activity. We are looking forward to it. Each set of elders and sisters will be in the area as the next day on Saturday we have President and Sister Poulsen come with the assistants for Zone Conference.

Life is good and we love serving the Lord here in Botswana. We send our love and pray for each of you every day.

With love out of Africa


Friday, April 2, 2010

Week #6 - Granny

Dear Family,

The weeks are slipping by quickly and we are learning a lot. We work hard every day, travel a lot, and traffic is unbelievable. We are living right in the “heart” of downtown Botswana; across town from the Olson’s and we feel safe where we are. Our little apartment complex actually has a fence, a gate that is guarded and the other night when we came home late we found out that the night guard has a huge big dog that almost came after us but the guard jerked him down. We went immediately to our back door and didn’t make any more noise so we didn’t worry about being attacked.

We love the people here. They are so kind and friendly; all you have to do is talk to them and they smile and greet you very politely. They don’t usually speak first, in fact they kind of check us over and definitely read our name tags, but when they see the “Jesus Christ” and we smile and say “Hello”, they always say Hello (or Dumela, which is Hello in Swetlana) and we are learning that they like it when we speak to them in their native tongue.

We have attended our Young Single Adult Branch for church and also gone to their Institute classes and they love us and the feeling is definitely mutual. Most of them are in college, very ambitious, very spiritual and they definitely study their scriptures and participate in class. The young men are dressed very sharp and the girls are darling with their beautiful braided hair-do’s. I have to admit that I don’t remember many of their names yet, they are very long and difficult. My tongue just doesn’t say the sounds that they use and sad, but true they all seem to look alike and I get them mixed up. It is getting better though and I am getting a few names down and they love it when I remember them and they hug me. They treat us like celebrities and love us to come to their meetings. We love to go there also, but we have 3 Wards and 7 Branches to visit and only one Sunday each week.

We had to speak again this last Sunday and in one of our newest Branches, Kanye (Kon ya). They only started their Branch Jan 1st and they are already having about 70 people out to church each week. In fact, they have had to start an afternoon session of meetings as they can’t get everyone in their little rental house that they hold church in. They buried a portable swimming pool in the back yard that is about 4 ‘deep and that is where they hold their baptisms. Last week was the first time they had held Relief Society so after we both spoke in Sacrament Meeting, I conducted the first Relief Society Meeting and Dad taught the Priesthood lesson. I taught the Sisters (about 20) all about the organization and purpose of Relief Society and they were so excited to get to belong to such a wonderful organization. I told them we would take their picture and put it up on the wall because that was the first Relief Society Meeting and when the Relief Society was organized there were also 20 Sisters in Attendance. They can always look at their picture and say they were there on the first Sunday Relief Society was held in the Kanye Branch. Kanye is about 1 ½ from us and it’s out on a small country road with lots of little villages along the way. We love the drive and we count the animals eating right next to the road along our trip. There are way too many goats and sheep to ever count, but this last time we counted 137 big Braham cattle on our way there and 201 donkeys on the way home. Sadly, though we also saw one cow that had bit hit and killed, four dead donkey’s and also 2 dogs.

Today we traveled to another Branch about 2 hours in another direction. We attended a District Meeting and took them some supplies they needed. This Branch is call Mafikeng (just like it is spelled) and it is back into South Africa so in order to go there we have to go through the border into South Africa and then back into Botswana and that was our first time since we got here to do that; and this time we did it without the Olson’s help. I was nervous about it and woke up this morning at 3:30 worrying and couldn’t go back to sleep. We finally got up at 5:00 and made our preparations for the journey. I shouldn’t have worried, but every time someone goes through the border it’s a new experience and I didn’t want to be the one that landed in jail for not having something documented right. Dad told me not to worry, he always take care of me.

Tomorrow we are headed up North about 5 hours to another Branch (Francistown) that is actually having 7 baptisms at noon tomorrow. We plan to leave about 5:30, deliver some supplies to Mochudi Elders on the way and then get there in time for their baptisms at noon.. The missionaries there are really working up a storm. President Poulsen put a missionary couple up there about 6 months ago as there were a couple of member families begging to have church up there. After a couple of months they had enough people attending church that President convinced the Area Presidency to let him put missionaries there and now they are having over 100 people at church every Sunday. We are excited to go meet our missionaries in that part of Botswana and also the couple, the Cardiff’s from Arizona. We will drive up on Saturday and back on Monday, stopping by another smaller Branch (actually not even a Branch yet) called Serowe (Sara Way) that is just beginning to develop. There is a family there that holds church in their home and invites others to attend. We want to stop and meet them and see how we can help them and see if they need any church material.

Olson’s are wonderful to work with; they just let us do everything and see if we get it right on our own before they remind us of what else we might need to do before going into the different places of business. Immigration was a nightmare this week for dad, paying the rent went pretty smoothly for me except that we had a couple of check problems and landlords wanting things done differently so we just did them over and smiled and made good notes. I’m trying to document EVERYTHING so I won’t mess up when Sister Olson is gone home. Olson’s aren’t sure when they will leave; they have a few problems at home and will probably go sooner than they had planned. We are working hard to learn everything so we’ll be ready when they decide.

We love the mission, we love the work, we really love our missionaries (we truly have Africa’s finest we are sure) and we do love the people of Botswana. We have noticed that we don’t see people begging on the streets here like we did in Johannesburg. There is less traffic (I guess, at least everyone tells us so) and we are learning our way around town. We just have to travel early in the morning to Olson’s right when the traffic is bumper to bumper all the way, and then we get home about at the worst time of night when it was at its worst again. Today is a holiday (Easter weekend) and they make a real holiday weekend of it. Most businesses closed yesterday (Thursday) at 1:00 so traffic all day was so bad that Olson’s were on their way to get us to do some business on our side of town and they couldn’t even get here and then they realized that everything would be closed anyway so we just made our way over to their place so we could at least do office work and go through files and etc. It usually takes us 15 to 20 minutes to get to their home and it took us 55 minutes but we made it. We stayed until after 6 and then the traffic had settled down. Today when we went out, there was no traffic and we actually loved it. Olson’s said last year the holiday lasted almost a week, so we’re hoping we don’t run into too much traffic on our way home from Francistown on Monday, but it may be awful if people are really returning.

Roads are all narrow two-lane roads with lots of pot holes and lots of roaming animals. We will not do any night driving this weekend, we try not to do much here in town either but sometimes we have to.

We hope all is well at home, we think of all of you often and we have to say we aren’t receiving many letters but we know you are busy. We hope you all get to enjoy Conference, we will not be able to see or hear any of it as we have no satellite’s set up here in Botswana. Conference will be recorded in Johannesburg and then sent to us so we will have Conference weekend on April 24th and 25th. Count Your Blessings and relish the gift of being able to set at the feet of a Prophet of God and his counselors and the Twelve Apostles and listen as they give you the messages from Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ; those messages that they would have you receive to bless your lives and the lives of your family.

I know the gospel of Jesus Christ is true, I love being a missionary, I know Heavenly Father loves me and you, I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior, The Book of Mormon is the Word of God and Thomas S. Monson is our Prophet today. The people of Botswana no longer look Black to me, we are all the same.

We Love You, each and every one of you, individually. Please take care of each other for us!

Mom and Dad